Pitney Bowes has filed lawsuits against online stamp vendors E-Stamp and Stamps.com charging them with infringement of its patents.
Both E-Stamp and Stamps.com are testing products that will enable consumers to buy and print out postage stamps using the Internet.
Pitney Bowes owns a number of patents for electronic postage technology. It alleges that E-Stamp and Stamps.com have infringed some of them in their test products.
"We have always made pioneering technology accessible to the marketplace, including licensing key postage metering technologies worldwide," said Pitney Bowes spokeswoman Sheryl Battles.
"During the past year, we have actively engaged in discussions with E-Stamp and other marketers of computer based postal products, to grant patent licenses for the Pitney Bowes developed technology used in PC meters and virtual meters."
"We will work toward a solution that addresses their needs while ensuring that Pitney Bowes receives full and fair compensation for the use of its intellectual property," added Battles. "In the absence of that solution, our obligation to protect Pitney Bowes' technology investments and safeguard shareholder value requires that we take this action."
Both E-Stamp and Stamps.com are expected to fight the legal action.
The online postage market is forecast to hit $700 million in the next five years.
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